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  • NATARAJA- THE LORD OF DANCE

    The Hindu God Shiva is popularly known as Nataraja; which is a Sanskrit word meaning – ‘Lord of Dance’. As per the Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is a cosmic dancer, whose dance destroys the weary world and paves way for God Brahma to start the process of creation. The Nataraj form of Lord Shiva originated in the Southern India by the artists of the Chola period(880-1279CE).

    The sculptures of Lord Shiva are symbolic. The cosmic dance of Shiva; also called ‘Anandatandava’, means‘The dance of Bliss’. It was in the presence of the gods and took place at the center of the universe. Shiva is seen with four arms in the poised pose of tribhanga; in Bharatanatyam. These four hands depict the four main directions i.e. the East, West, North and South. In the upper right hand of Shiva is a small drum, also called ‘damru’. It personifies the sound of creation. The lower right raised hand signifies protection. The lower left hand symbolizes peace and being calm during times of trouble or at the time of misery. The idol has a snake in his handand it can also be seen uncoiling from the lower right forearm of Shiva and entwined within his hair. It stands for goddess Ganga in Shiva’s hair.In the Nataraja form, Shiva is seen dancing on the aureole of flames with his right leg lifted and left leg balanced over a demon or dwarf (Apasmara). This personifies the victory over ignorance. The artisans have amazingly taken care of visualizing the minutest details of the symbolic sculpture; for example how the dwarf looks at Shiva with his head turned when he is standing on his back or the beautifully crafted jewelry of Lord Shiva.

    It depicts the continuous process of creation and destruction; which is a natural phenomenon and the basis of existence. The Shiva dance is of two forms; which depicts the two aspects of Shiva’s nature – he destroys so as to create. The gentle form of dance which is called ‘Lasya’ is associated with the creation of the world. The second form of dance is the violent and dangerous one; which is called the ‘Tandava’, which is associated with the destruction of this world.

    Most of the Shiva temples in South of India have sculptures of the form of Shiva which is also called ‘Sabesan’ by the Tamil people. It means ‘The Lord who dances on the dais’. The sculptures are mostly made in bronze and are considered as ‘The symbol of Indian Culture’.

    These beautiful and eye catching works of art depicting the dance of Nataraja can be seen in Poompuhar. The wonderful sculptures can be bought from the Tamilnadu Handicraft Development Corporation; which is a Government of Tamil Nadu undertaking. These carefully crafted pieces of art have little variations which makes each sculpture unique and magnificent in itself. These four splendid works of the artisans are:-

    • Nataraja Antique finish- As the name suggests, it has a finish which gives it an antique look. Its price starts from Rs 5000.

    Nataraja Antique finish

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    • Nataraja polish- Its price starts from Rs 3000.

    Nataraja polish

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    • Brass Nataraja polish- Its price starts from Rs 1,729 and it has a brass polish on it.

    Brass Nataraja polish

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    • Brass Nataraja Antique finish- Its price isRs 420 onwards.

    Brass Nataraja Antique finish

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    The beautiful and meaningful pieces of handicraft have acquired appreciation world- wide. They have been carefully crafted taking into consideration each and every bit of the details, which makes them all the more appealing.

  • South India: The Times Gone By...

    India is a country marked by diversities, and what’s remarkable is the unity that exists amidst this multiple ethnicity. South India is a large chunk of the country and is home to people of varying cultures and spoken languages. The history of each of its regions speaks volumes and is well preserved in various forms of art. These art forms include folklores, music, dance-forms, art and craft, etc.

    This expanse of the Indian sub-continent still harbours the remains of the ancient times, when the Cholas, Pandyas, Pallavas and Cheras were the rulers of this soil. This dates back to as early as 10th Century A.D. , when Tamil Nadu under the reign of the Cholas was renowned for its beautifully carved temples and unparalleled literature. The Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur is an example of the architectural marvels of this bygone age. Economic activity too was at its peak, each one these virtues is still alive in this state and its inhabitants. The peninsular Deccan Plateau had no look backs even in the Medieval and Modern periods of Indian history. The legacy of being economically strong and traditionally rich continued to pave its way. The Medieval period saw some great structures like the Stone Chariot, Virupaksha Temple.

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    Detail of the main vimanam of the Thanjavur Temple. Image credits: Venu62 - Wikipedia

    The city of Mysore narrates tales about the kings that ruled and has its own unmatched aura to boast. The Arabian Sea makes this peninsula the focal point for tourists. Every year tens of thousands of tourists throng the land and get swayed by the mesmerising scenic beauty. The beaches and the backwaters are a spectacle for every eye. These captivating views coupled with the bronzes sculptures, the stone carvings, the engraved plates, clay idols and other forms of art and craft protected in the temples and monuments make South India is a locale that has carved the moments gone by on the sands of time.

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    Shiva as Nataraja, the most famous subject found in Chola processional bronzes. Image Credits: LACMA - Wikipedia

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